Friday, February 26, 2010

A First for Taiwan: Supreme Administrative Court Upholds Decision to Void Central Science Park EIA – Farmers, Lawyers & Social Groups Petition

With the Lunar New Year break we missed some of what has been happening on the green front this month. Below is a press release from the Taiwan Environmental Action Network and Green Party Taiwan earlier this month. As the press release explains, the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the decision to void the Central Science Park EIA but true to form, the EPA have just forged ahead and done what they always do...gone rogue.

Press Conference on 4 February 2010

A First for Taiwan: Supreme Administrative Court Upholds Decision to Void Central Science Park EIA – Farmers, Lawyers Associations, Social Groups Petition Control Yuan to Investigate EPA Officials’ Misconduct, Demand Minister’s Resignation

On 22 January 2010 Taiwan’s Supreme Administrative Court rocked Taiwan’s Executive by upholding a lower court’s ruling that the environmental impact assessment approval issued by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) for a major high-tech industry construction project was void. The decision strikes a blow against one of Taiwan’s sacred cows, the expansion and development of what are euphemistically called “science parks.”

However, despite the decision, and in an extension of its nearly four year epic of ignoring calls from farmers, academics, environmentalists and the courts, the EPA seems to have “gone rogue”; instead of looking at the issues on which the courts based their decisions, public health threats for example, the EPA has engaged in what appears to be a drug-induced orgy of self denial, legal fantasy and political blame shifting, prompting some observers to ask, “what are they smoking down there on Chunghua Road?”

A number of social advocacy groups will be holding several activities tomorrow (Feb. 4, 2010):

At 1030 am Gathering in front of Executive Yuanà Marching to Control Yuan #2 Sec. 1 Chung Hsiao East Road, Taipei, representatives the farmers of Taichung that brought the action against the EPA, former commissioners, and lawyers and law scholars will speak to the press and public before delivering a petition to the Control Yuan requesting an immediate investigation into 1) illegalities and negligence of officials within the EPA and commissioners involved with the Central Science Park/Third Phase/Cising Site environmental impact assessment, and 2) what the groups allege is the extremely creative but seriously flawed interpretations of law that the EPA has conjured up to avoid ordering the immediate cessation of the development project in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Act.

Speakers will include: Lawyer for the plaintiffs LIN, San-chia; representatives from the plaintiffs, a group of six farmers from Hou-li Taichung; Dr. CHOU, Chin-cheng and Dr. Gloria Hsu, both professors at Taiwan’s leading university, and both of whom were serving as commissioners at the time the project passed; representatives from the Judicial Reform Foundation and the recently-formed Environmental Jurists Association.

1330 “EPA, are you illiterate or just numb?”, will be held in front of the Environmental Protection Administration, 83, Zhonghua Rd. Sec. 1, Zhongzheng District, Taipei.

Whereas the plaintiffs and civic groups have faith in the ability of the Control Yuan to make a fair and full investigation, they have been appalled at the actions and statements of the EPA.

The EPA has showed contempt for the judiciary, engaged in outrageous abuses of authority such that the people affected by the negligence, arrogance and “screw you” attitudes of EPA officials have really had enough, and want to vent their anger and frustration at the EPA and EPA officials, in particular the Minister Steven Shen, who is believed to routinely stay up late at night crafting responses to negative press reports and answering accusations from the public.

The groups are demanding: 1. Within three days the EPA shall order all work stop on the Central Science Park development in accordance with the law and decisions of the courts; and 2. Since it is now eminently clear that Minister Shen is incompetent to such an extent – his handling of this case as well as the fourth phase Central Science Park being but two examples in a long history of “environmental poaching” –ignoring the health and environmental safety of the people -, he must immediately step down.

All reporters are welcome


Taiwan Environmental Action Network, Kathy LEE 0973350972

Green Party Taiwan, PAN Han-sheng 0935295815

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Convenient Route?

Here in Taiwan it’s our first week back at work after the Lunar New Year break. Oh, I’ve forgotten my manners. Xin Nian Kuai Le! to you all and all the best for the Year of the Golden Tiger. Now, with the New Year wishes out the way let’s get back to going back to work and the Convenient Route. That word ‘route’ needs to be said in the British way, as in ‘root.’ Yeah, I know that’s rather weak but hey it’s my first day back on the job.

Officials, executives watch premiere of climate change film

That’s what the Taipei Times tells us all the government big wigs and top business executives where doing on their first day back at work. That sounds promising. Is change afoot? Something happen over the New Year? Did the Ghost of Environments Past pay the heads of the five branches of government a late night visit? Is EPA Minister Shen Shu-hung pulling an Ebenezer Scrooge? Well, whatever happened this does seem like a good way for the 'powers that be' to start the new year…or so I thought.

I read the opening sentence. “The heads of the nation's five branches of government, as well as top business executives, were invited to watch the premiere of '±2°C', a documentary on climate change in Taiwan, at the Butterfly Pavilion in Taipei last night.” So far so good! Let’s read on. “TV commentator Sisy Chen, the producer of the film,…Sisy Chen and climate change!!! What? You’ve got to be kidding me! Slippery talk show host and sometimes bench-crossing politician Sisy Chen doing something on climate change? Yes, Sisy Chen has made a documentary on climate change. My first thought was Sisy Chen is trying to reinvent herself as Taiwan’s Al Gore. I started to read a little further and there it was in black and white. “Chen said she had seen several documentaries on climate change, including An Inconvenient Truth by former US vice president Al Gore…

People can change. Perhaps I’ve got it wrong. Maybe Sisy’s seen the light. Perhaps she watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and while she was sleeping that night the Ghost of Environments Future came to her. Well, if she’s for real, whatever it was, “You go girl!”

I’ve not seen her documentary so can’t honestly comment on it. However, Sisy’s slippery reputation is well known so I can't help being suspicious. It’s going to take some doing to rid herself of that "she'll say anything as long as the money's right" reputation she has. Speaking to some folks who have seen her documentary I’ve been told that there are some errors in it and that it appeared as nothing but a greenwashing gimmick to them. So does this mean Sisy has jumped on the green bandwagon to revive her political fortunes and taken a new convenient route back into the limelight as Taiwan's new green queen? If this is the case, time will tell. But for now, let’s give Sisy the benefit of the doubt.

Sisy, if you’re for real. How about taking a stand? How about speaking out against all that west coast “development”? You know. The projects that are going to cause considerable increases to Taiwan’s already shocking emission levels and make the Taiwan pink dolphins go extinct...the Kuokuang Petrochemical project and all the other developments in Mailiao with Formosa where the cancer rate is already six times the national average. Also, the new TaiPower power plant, and the Erlin development of the Central Taiwan Science Park. How about it Sisy? How about making a real stand for the environment ?

Taipei Times: Officials, executives watch premiere of climate change film

Also see:
Fatalities of the Limelight III: Sisy Chen, Hired Gun for Sale or Rent